India, a global hub for generic drugs, has launched a new scheme to boost production of active pharmaceutical ingredients that are greatly dependent on the Chinese supply chain, according to NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. Speaking at the 14th Annual BioPharma and Healthcare Summit, he said India is now gearing up for innovation in its pharmaceutical ecosystem focusing on speedy and scaled up delivery of new vaccines and personalised medicines.
He said that India has launched a new scheme to boost production of active pharmaceutical ingredients that are greatly dependent on the Chinese supply chain. "We are planning to do complete manufacturing in India," he said at the virtual summit organised by the USA-India Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
The day-long virtual summit was attended by major players from the US pharmaceutical sector, whose combined annual research and development budget is more than USD 45 billion. Relations between the US and China, the world's leading manufacturer in a number of sectors, have deteriorated after the coronavirus outbreak spread across the world from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
President Donald Trump has squarely blamed Beijing for allowing the virus to spread across the world that has led to the death of over eight lakh people and triggered an unprecedented global health crisis. Bilateral tension between Washington and Beijing has also spiked over security concerns and human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet. This has led to a number of countries looking at India as a substitute to China for their manufacturing bases and key commodity production.
Kant said the Indian government is committed to achieve its 'Pharma Vision 2020', which aims to make the country a global leader in drug discovery, innovation, and drug manufacturing. India is working towards robust innovation landscape awareness, innovation facilitators such as human capital investment in research and development, safety-legal environment, regulatory environment to provide truly world class biopharma research, he said.
The government has carried out far-reaching reforms to streamline the clinical trial and regulatory approval process to facilitate drug discovery in partnership with the private sector, he said. Bio incubators have been set up to monitor and nurture scaling of technologies. India is developing world class clinical trial infrastructure to increase the number of beds per thousand population.
"Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) launched the National Digital Health Commission on our Independence Day, (now) electronic health records will be created for individuals which will be immensely valuable for research purposes," Kant said. Professor K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, said the dramatically changing context, after the COVID-19 outbreak this year, hugely favours India.
He said personalised medicines are the future in healthcare. Personalised medicine was till recently seen as a "fancy way of having individual-oriented medication" but today in India -- due to the dramatic scaling up of telemedicine and a variety of tele-consulting ways -- one is going to see personalised medicine at the grassroot-level in a population of more than a billion, Raghavan said.
"This opens up a very critical aspect for innovation, which is feedback. Feedback from people will drive innovation enormously," he said. Karun Rishi, president of USAIC, said it's a great opportunity for India to play a critical role in the biopharma research and development process.
President of Takeda Pharmaceuticals, R&D, Andrew Plump said Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced a new healthcare plan that offered care to over half a billion people, referring to the Ayushman Bharat scheme. "We have started to see innovation on the clinical trial front. If you go back a decade ago, the number of global clinical trials that were run in India were little over a dozen. Today we have close to 200. It's not where it needs to be. But it's amazing progress that we're seeing in this wonderful country which we have immense commitment to," he said.